10-11-18 The Galilee Area and Nazareth

Excerpts from Scott Miller posts on Facebook

The next morning we get up and proceed with the other 10 billion tourist buses (maybe a bit of an exaggeration) to the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy. This marks the traditional spot on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus appeared to His disciples after his resurrection while they were fishing near the shore. After he calls to them and tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, they catch a “boatload” of fish – literally. Peter swims to shore to see Jesus and going alone alone with him, Jesus asks him 3 times if he loves him. The English translation doesn’t carry them same emphasis of the exchange between them as the Greek, but the point is that Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep, restoring him after Peter’s earlier denial at Caiaphas’s house and making him the leader of the soon to be established Church.

after a brief service and message on the beach where Jesus had cooked fish and bread (that part of the story fascinates me for some reason), we look around and I tool these pics of the stones that formed part of the older 4-5th century Byzantine church that had been destroyed by the Sassanid (pre-Muslim) Persians in 614 AD.

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Inside the new church that was built over the stones marking the place where Jesus traditionally cooked and/or served the bread and fish breakfast.

Speaking of fish and bread, this is Tabgha, right down the street from the Church of St. Peter’s primacy. It’s the traditional place where Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 men (not to mention women and children).

If you’re wondering where the name of the place Tabgha, came from, it’s an Arabic corruption of the Greek name επταπαγον, or Heptapagon. But to simplify things, a German community runs the place and gave it the nice easy name Brotvermehrungskirche. That’s Bread Multiplication Church for us Anglophones. The word Heptapagon actually means seven springs, but not wanting the place to be confused with a golf course in Pasco County, the ancient Byzantines picked something that would confuse the Arabs when they took over.

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Our tour guide, Doron, explains the development of Tabgha through the varying epochs of the history of the Holy Land since the time of Christ; Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Muslim, Crusader, Ottoman, British, and Israeli. By the end of the trip we could all rattle them off in our sleep.

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After milling about with the crowds rivaling the one that Jesus fed, Doron did what he does best. He took us aside to a place almost completely missed by most tourists and showed us this ancient baptismal font recovered on the grounds of the church and now seemingly forgotten.

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Continuing clockwise around the Sea of Galilee, we come to Capernaum, Jesus’ adopted home town. We don’t know why Jesus decided to move here after his neighbors from Nazareth decided to try and throw Him over a cliff, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that his best friend Simon (a/k/a Peter) lived there with his mother in law and presumably his wife – if she was still alive at that time.
These are ruins unearthed in Capernaum (I believe) from the time of Christ. The black stones are quarried or collected from the nice basalt collection on the Golan Heights, while white limestone rocks in the background are from later construction and gathered from somewhere else, but they give an idea of the size of some of the common houses along the main street in Jesus’ day.
Capernaum’s mostest favoritest house. This is the one traditionally assigned to Peter where Jesus healed his sick mother-in-law and immediately got up to resume her Jewish mother roll and served everyone. They know it was Peter’s house because it seemed like the nicest one in town and, of course being the future first pope, it stands to reason he must have lived in the one house closest to being a palace.


These are the remains of what was a beautiful synagogue built over the remains of the one from Jesus time. The original synagogue was destroyed by the Romans in 66 AD during the Jewish War. You can see the black basalt rocks from the first synagogue under the foundation from the later synagogue that (I believe) was destroyed by the Muslims in their 7th Century conquest.

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This elaborately carved piece appears to be one of the lintels from atop of the columns in the Synagogue. The actual details of the carvings are rich with important symbology to Jewish worshipers, and not just the magan (shield or star of) David evident in the picture.

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We had lunch at a restaurant owned by a Russian Jew in the beautiful little city of Tiberias. In Jesus’ day Tiberias was mainly a gentile city, but I took the pictures of us eating lunch because the restaurant was in a building that was once the Crusader fortress of Tiberius. It was here that the Countess of Tiberius was holding the city against the marauding army gathered by Salah-al-Din (Saladin) while her husband was with the Christian army gathered by King Guy of Jerusalem in the hot summer of 1187 AD. Her husband advised Guy that his wife knew what she was doing and would be fine and that he should not advance the army in an effort to relieve the siege. Of course King Guy goes down in history as one of the most incompetent military leaders in history because he ignored the count’s advice and ended up getting it slaughtered at the Horns of Hattin on 4 July 1187, dooming the castles and cities of the kingdom to fall one by one with no army to relieve them.

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We arrive at what in Jesus’ day was a little village, but today is the growing Palestinian city of Nazareth. Once a predominantly Christian town, the residents today are mostly Arab speaking Muslims. The Christians have either lower birthrates and/or have emigrated abroad due to being considered infidels by the Palestinian leadership and just more troublesome Palestinians by the Israelis. But details of such complicated political matters are best left the subject of other discussions. While expanding the city, developers came across an ancient olive press in this field and decided to make “Nazareth Village.” It’s a picture for tourists to see some details of daily village life in Jesus’ day. Of course the city continues to grow around the site and now people in period dress harvest olives surrounded by modern high-rises.

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n this reconstruction of what might have been a 1st century home, one of the “locals” is spinning the home grown-wool into strands that she works into a loom to produce a rough woolen cloth.

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In the nearby carpenter’s shop, a worker and our tour guide demonstrate the use of tools that are very familiar to most of us today, indicating how long some of the technology has been around.

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This reconstruction of the olive press is accompanied by an animated film showing how the precious oil is extracted from the olives for its multiple uses in the ancient world.

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The highlight of our tour was the visit to the reconstructed synagogue where we read from Luke chapter 4 where Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth and told them he was the fulfillment of the prophecy. At first they were astounded at is words, but when he mentioned that God performed miracles for gentiles, they got all riled up and wanted to toss him off a local cliff – maybe the site of our net stop.

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As with many of the stories in the gospel, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact location, but this hilltop near Nazareth with a fantastic view of the Jezreel Valley is the most likely place where the local denizens of Nazareth decided to toss Jesus off the cliff. Of course the scriptures almost dismissively indicate that he walked through their midst, thus making his escape. Then he moved apparently to Capernaum. We didn’t go to the Church of the Annunciation due to the massive crowds and long lines to get in.

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Our tour “chaplain,” Pastor Dave, who is also Aunt Harriet’s home town LCMS pastor leads us in another Bible study about the story of Jesus being rejected in his hometown. Aunt Harriet, Will, Jackie and I pose for a group pic before moving on with the tour.

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Categories: Israel 2018